“What the hell does that kid think he’s doing?” A thin, slouching man stepped out of the kitchen and into the living room where the commotion had happened. Brian turned to aim his gun at the man and he backed up, hands in the air. “Whoa, no big deal man, he can do what he wants!”
“That kid,” Daryl said, turning to the man with anger in his eyes, “lives on this farm! Who are you people, I don’t recognize you, you weren’t refugees.”
Two more men came barrelling down the hallway and Daryl pointed his rifle at them. There was a commotion of voices then, each demanding something of the others but none of them were actually heard.
“Everyone put your damn guns down!” The woman on the floor struggled to yell through her swollen and bleeding lips. Her nose was bent and broken and her eyes were split and bloody. “Listen man, we didn’t know the kid lived here. We were just protecting our home.”
“It’s not your home!” Daryl yelled.
“When we showed up this place was abandoned. We noticed there weren’t many dead people around so we took advantage. How can you blame us? Wouldn’t you do the same?”
“It wasn’t abandoned when we left here a couple nights ago,” Daryl snapped.
“Who knows what happened, man. We just got here and it was empty so we moved in.”
“There’s a woman upstairs, Gabby, we know her. She was one of the refugees.”
“Okay, so it wasn’t completely abandoned.” The woman was only working her way deeper into a lie and Daryl could tell.
“It’s true!” Gabby came carefully tip toeing down the stairs. “There was this horde of zombies. They moved in so unexpectedly the night you left.”
“And they just moved on, no problem? Leaving you behind?”
“They killed so many of us. They stumbled into our tents while we slept, a few of us were able to hold our ground and fight back. A couple other people survived and they moved on but I had to take care of Jacob. Mikayla and the others showed up yesterday and let me join them for protection.”
“What do you mean ‘take care of Jacob’?”
“I couldn’t stand the idea of leaving him for the zombies. I had to bury him.”
Daryl felt his gut clench. How could he tell Eden about this? One brother dead, the other a monster.
“Your weapons, I recognize them. Someone broke into my car.”
“You mean the cruiser out there packed to the brim with guns like you wouldn’t believe?” Mikayla was standing now, with Gabby’s help. “I’m sorry, but what kind of a man hides guns in a time like this anyway? Maybe if you’d shared there would have been more survivors that night.”
Daryl shifted his weight from one leg to the other. He was becoming uncomfortable with where this discussion was headed.
“However, as helpful as guns are during a zombie apocalypse I’d like to humbly request we all put ours down now? I got my boy here, and there’s been enough killing today.”
Daryl hesitated for a second but lowered his gun first, followed by the muscular man in the hall and then finally Brian.
“Thank goodness.” The slouching man put a hand to his heart as he exhaled the breath he was holding.
“What happened to Corrigan?” Gabby asked. “I heard him... I, uh, saw him...”
“I don’t know,” Daryl lied. He recognized those glowing green eyes as Corrigan looked at him. Felicia had those same eyes.
The muscular man in the hallway cracked his knuckles. “Well, he better not find himself back here or I swear--”
“Nobody else is gonna die,” Mikayla said, moving to take a seat on the couch. Daryl noticed the man Corrigan had beaten was still on the floor, not moving.
“Tell that to him,” the man in the hallway said as he too noticed Corrigan’s bloodied victim.
“Shut up, Omar,” Mikayla said in a defeated tone. “The kid was defending his home, just like we were, and Gus didn’t have anyone left anyway. Besides, you didn’t even like the guy!”
“He was more than pissed,” Daryl said, moving to look out the door. Corrigan was nowhere in sight. “Something was happening to him, something bad.”
“Something like what?” Omar demanded.
“I don’t know, okay? I just know he was most definitely not himself when he did this. I don’t know if he’ll ever be himself again.”
Gabby had moved to the floor next to Gus now, she was holding the dead man’s hand and whispering a prayer through silent tears. She kissed the man’s hand and put it down on his chest, “We should get his body out of the house and bury it before it attracts zombies.”
“No, we,” Brian pointed at himself and Daryl, “need to get back to our people.”
“We need to find Corrigan,” Daryl said, ignoring the strangers in the room as they discussed a plan.
“You saw the kid!” Brian stepped closer to Daryl as he spoke. “He’s gone. Finding him will only lead to misery on both our parts. We need to find Lila and get home.”
Daryl struggled with what Brian said. He knew the man was right, but it didn’t make it easy to hear. Sighing, Daryl said, “We should head back to town then.” He looked at Mikayla, then at the shotgun in Omar’s hand. “I want my guns back.”
“No way.” Mikayla shook her head. Daryl noticed a boy who looked to be around seven years old had quietly come up to the woman’s side and was now holding her hand. “We need those guns for protection. It seems like you two are armed well enough as it is.”
Daryl knew Mikayla was right. The people on the farm did need protection. Perhaps if he’d shared the guns earlier more refugees would have survived the attack.
“Fine,” Daryl waved it off. He was too preoccupied with worry for Corrigan to fight anyway. “Keep the damn guns, for now. Brian, let’s go.”
Brian left the house and Daryl turned on Gabby, pointing at her. “I’m coming back here and I’m bringing Eden. I expect you’ll be able to tell her what happened to this place exactly like you told it to me. You know Eden. If you’re lying, she’ll know.”